Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Timothy Doyle continues his journey in Iraq with AUI,S

By Salman Ahmed Rasul

                             Timothy Doyle is director of The Office of Enrollment Management. 
                                                                 Photo by Taha Faris- AUI-S Voice

Timothy Doyle is the director of The Office of Enrollment Management at AUI-S. Most of the AUI-S students, faculty, and staff members know him because he is very friendly, and he is almost always available to see students not only in his office. To know more in depth about his life AUI-S Voice interviewed him. Doyle is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, Georgia. This is why he goes back to the United Sates every six weeks. He will be done in December of 2011. Additionally, he has a master’s degree in Ancient and Medieval History from Emory University in Atlanta, and he has an undergraduate degree is in History and Classical Civilization from Wabash College in 1986.

He was the Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs at Oglethorpe University for seven years. Previous to that he worked for three years as Oglethorpe’s Retention Specialist and member of the History and Core Curriculum faculty. He worked in Enrollment Management as the person who specialized in at-risk students who had personal, financial or academic problems to figure out how they could stay and graduate. He also taught History at Emory University and Georgia Perimeter College and worked at Emory for seven years in university housing management.

Do you have a comprehensive plan in your office to recruit the student body population for next year?
We have a very aggressive enrollment plan. We are in the process of hiring an additional staff member to serve as a recruitment officer who will work with my staff, Raz Jaf and Aram Sabir. This person will coordinate site visits to high schools and arrange personal visits from my staff, students, and another people as appropriate, including faculty. We will focus first on schools primarily in the KRG, but also other place as accessible. We have met with the appropriate representatives, including the Ministers of Education in Erbil and Baghdad to get their support to recruit directly from the high schools. We have visited numerous high schools already.

This initiative is new to Iraq, and it is new specifically to Kurdistan to have such outreach going into the high schools, meeting with students, and talking to them in English about the American University while trying to explain what we do. I like students to hear from other students, for example when we visited Erbil; our team included two current students from Erbil. They could help answer questions from a student perspective and not sound administrative.

We are also closely cooperating with the creation of publications by our Communications Department. This will allow us to put specific information into prospective students’ hands they can share with their parents, friends or other people.

We will be targeting appropriate high schools based on demographic data that we have collected with the help of the ministries so we can recruit students who match successful students at AUI-S. We are trying to see who is successful here and go get more of them.

Do you think we will start the fall semester in the new campus?
Yes, we anticipate starting the fall semester in the new campus. And we are very excited about that. I think frankly that will help recruiting. I think we are full here in this campus, particularly in our academic program and we need more space. We look forward to the facilities there.

A number of academic students would like to study in summer school in order to graduate sooner. Are you going to offer summer school when we move to the new campus?
I do not know yet, and that will certainly not be my decision to make. I imagine if we could offer summer school it would not be free. It will be an additional charge for students. I am sure some would apply, but if there is demand for it, I do not see why there would not summer school. We are moving towards including a summer session for EWPLI but not this summer.

Since January of 2011, when Ranking Web of World Universities website published a global index for top 12000 universities around the world, some people and websites here in Iraq used the ranking in order to attack AUI-S, including the director of the House of Wisdom (Think-Tank) in Kurdistan, Faruq Rafiq. He said on a TV show that AUI-S ranks 11591st, what is your response about that Ranking as an official of AUI-S?
I am actually a bit of an expert on ranking. I am writing my doctoral dissertation partially on how universities pursue prestige by advancing in various university ranking indices. I am unfamiliar with the specifics of the speech you refer to. I have heard a little bit about this. I do not know the details, but as I understand it someone was ranking schools by the number of website clicks. That seems ridiculous. That is like ranking schools by the schools’ colors. It has got nothing to do with the universities’ education. It has got nothing to do with learning outcomes, and it has nothing to do with what a graduate can contribute to the society in which they live by counting the numbers of online clicks to home websites. Our school is very small, and it is only three years old, so of course it will have fewer clicks on its website than a large school.

So, it’s a meaningless statistic. It is sad that someone would use that to rank a school. If someone intends to be critical of AUI-S and that is the best they can find, that seems kind of sad to me. That would mean to me that all small schools are bad. And I believe in small schools’ quality of education. Students are in class every day and can’t hide. We get to know our students and can tailor their experience to benefit them, like the students who work in the Admission Office.

I see those students in their entirety: I see their education level and how their ability in English gets better every day from EWPLI when I talk to them in the office. When I see the students in my class it is clear to me that they learn and see the world differently not just from my class, but from combining all their classes. Their reactions are shaped by their experiences out of their classes as well in activities like Athletics and debate.

I believe in this type of liberal arts education. I believe that it is the best form of all higher education. The world seems to agree. In my doctoral program I studied in Europe with European educators who are borrowing elements to their education processes from the American system in many ways. I have met the ministers of education for Kurdistan and for all of Iraq. And I am very impressed how they are both trying to improve elementary education. Both departments are interested, for example, in improving skills in English for college-bound students. And I think this is a huge advantage that we have. I would also say without a doubt that the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani produces students more capable in English than any other school in this country, and probably one of the best in the Middle East. I think learning English in addition to your major is a tremendous advantage. That is why I am here. I believe in what we are doing. And I feel sorry for someone who has to attack our program out of ignorance.

What do you think about living in Iraq? Is it a good challenge and experience to live here for you?
Because I am an academic I read a couple of books about living in Iraq and living in Kurdistan specifically before I came over. I lived abroad previously in the 80’s, but this is the longest time abroad for me. I did not know what to expect. I have to say things are much more advanced than I expected, and I find the culture really interesting. The only other time I have been exposed to Islamic civilization was during the 1980’s in Bosnia, so I say this is real education for me. I am surprised how western things are; I am also surprised how simultaneously different things are. While there are things that I miss back in the States, there is nothing that I need.

This interview first appeared on 

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